My son made an interesting remark this morning, nothing original exactly, but I found it profound considering he’s only seven. He asked me; “Why do people always want to hurt things that are different from themselves?” I didn’t have an answer for him at that moment besides; “I don’t know.” At seven, he didn’t pursue a more profound explanation. Something else caught his attention, and he quickly forgot he had even asked. I didn’t forget. I’ve been thinking about it for hours since. I still don’t have an explanation.
In my stories, I like to push my boundaries a little. I touch on themes of religion, and family, and homosexuality. They are vampire stories, and so I think I use my characters as an excuse to touch on themes that might make some people feel uncomfortable. Vampires are my “minorities.” They are fictional beings. I think it’s comfortable for readers to accept them as both hunters and prey because they aren’t real. As a writer, they allow me liberties that readers might feel uncomfortable with, if I were sticking with traditional human characters.
For instance, seeing that my vampires range in ages from approximately 2500 years to 100, I have allowed them to look at religion from the perspective of when they were turned. Some are atheists. They’ve been around for a long time. They’ve seen what they’ve seen with that perspective. They have their own beliefs, and a supernatural creator is not part of that belief system. Other characters are extremely religious. Their turning helped cement their beliefs. Some fall somewhere in between. As the creator of these characters, I’ve felt responsible for them. While my own belief system reflects from my own life, I can’t assume my characters would believe the same as I do. How could they? If I were born in a different time in history, I wouldn’t see things the same way as I do. It would be easier for me to make characters that all shared my religious views, and it would be TERRIBLY wrong for both my characters and my story.
Can characters of different backgrounds and faiths get along? Maybe, but not always. As my son pointed out, in general, people don’t like others that are different from themselves. Maybe they don’t want to be forced to question their own views about the world. Maybe it’s something more. I still don’t have an answer for my son, but as a writer, I enjoy taking advantage of the differences in my characters and also pointing out their sameness. Regardless of who my characters are, or what their unique background is, I still feel they all have more in common than what one might first assume. No one is completely anything, good, evil, or other.